Apr 112011

Our canyon in the Jemez Mountains

Sometimes we feel the pain or joy of another as if it were our own.

And sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with these intense feelings.

If you are one of these sensitive people, you are not alone.

What’s more, you can turn what could be a handicap into a valuable gift.

Feeling Another’s Pain

A few years ago I was driving up our gorgeous canyon for my daily walk with our dogs and was shocked to see what the electric company had done to the trees that grow along the road.

They had attacked the trees with a chainsaw. Hundreds of them.

Tortured is the perfect word to describe what they had done to them, and what the trees must be feeling.

I immediately felt such compassion, grief, and sadness that it felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I literally felt sick to my stomach.

I felt it for the trees. Not for myself, that I could no longer enjoy the beauty of them, although, of course, that was a loss too. But I felt for the trees themselves.

I felt this way for quite some time. I did what I could in a practical sense to prevent it ever happening again, but in the end my efforts have been futile. I’m sorry to say it’s become an annual ritual.


All of us are sensitive to our surroundings. Some of us are more sensitive than others, and some of us notice it more than others. But we all are affected by everything around us.

This is known as empathy.

The typical way this word is used is in relation to our feeling compassion for another person. We identify with them and then feel what they might feel

But we can feel empathy for everything and anything. For sentient beings especially (and here I include the plant kingdom), but also for those things we don’t consider as having feeling at all.

And it happens in a physical or vibrational way without our even thinking of that person or thing.

Are You an Empath?

If you aren’t aware of this influence on you, you can find yourself feeling all kinds of emotions and moods that just don’t make sense given your current life situation.

If this happens a lot it’s the first sign that you are what’s known as an “empath”. This means you are more naturally sensitive than most people to energies around you.

And you absorb them and take them on as if they were your own without even noticing you’re doing that.

So Now What?

There are lots of ways to work with your empathic abilities.

One way is to learn to avoid taking on others’ stuff without knowing you are doing that.

Another way is to learn to use those very same abilities to greatly enhance your life and the lives of others.

This includes sharing your experiences with other empaths as well as reaching out to those beings or things you feel empathy for. (Sending loving energy to Gaia or Mother Earth is a good example of this. Or send some love to the trees of the Jemez. They can use it.)

This is how you turn what might otherwise be a handicap into one of your most useful skills.

I’ll continue to write about this topic from time to time, and in more detail. In the meantime, there is a lot of free information on the web about working with these abilities. Here’s one site that’s fairly comprehensive and a good place to start.

A Series of Empath Interviews

Another great place for helpful information is a new empath interview series.

Over at her lively and informative blog Conduit of Joy!, Kara has just kicked off an interview series “Empaths R Us”. (Is that like cute or what? It’s reflective of her fun-loving energy.)

Her first interview is with yours truly 🙂, and you can find it here. She asks really thought-provoking questions and it was an interesting process to consider them.

If you’re wondering if you’re an empath, or if you know you are and want some ideas for working with it, I think you’ll find my interview helpful.

Better yet, subscribe to or bookmark Conduit of Joy! so you can benefit from the whole series!

And maybe I will “see you there”.

Have you ever found yourself “crying for the trees?” Do you consider yourself an empath? Any comments or questions about what I discuss in my interview? I’d love to hear!

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet and share it with your friends. Thank you!

  26 Responses to “Do You Cry For Butchered Trees?”

Comments (20) Trackbacks (6)

    Oh, empathy.

    I find myself getting headaches and feeling annoyed in big crowds. Like malls and so on. I read the interview on Kara’s site, and it was very touching. Kudos to both of you!

    This reminds me of the endings of every Cold Case episode I watch, with the music and the ‘appariton’ of the victim showing up. I get so emotional! Of course it can’t be compared, but the similarity here is how you can be affected. Close to where I live there’s a forest with the old city museum. When I see the old weathered buildings, the pond in the middle of the museum (I gotta post a picture on my blog of it).. I can kind of feel the forest reaching out to me. It’s not just humans that want to connect, but nature too.


      Hi Sol,

      What a great comment. I was especially struck by your “It’s not just humans that want to connect, but nature too.” I think that’s so true!

      I watched an amazing film called “Our Daily Bread”, about the way our food is grown. It’s all an assembly line with no appreciation of or a “seeing” of the plants that provide so much to us. It’s an amazing film, the way it’s done (there’s no narration), and you know as you watch that they want to be seen by us as much as we need to be seen.

      Thanks for contributing! Always nice to see you. 🙂


        They need us as much as we need them. I think it’s a little sad all the ‘blame’ we as human beings seem to lay on ourselves. Sure, we’ve done a lot of bad things, but still. There are elementals that are not trusting towards humans, but why should they when we don’t even trust ourselves?


          Hi Sol,

          This is really an interesting thought and I thank you for expressing it. I agree it’s a little sad but I think it’s sadder still that so many humans do not feel any responsibility for what we do to nature.

          There are times when I find myself feeling a part of the “human creature” and so appalled at our lack of respect toward the other kingdoms. (It takes me by surprise because I know “I” didn’t do but at an energetic level I find myself feeling responsible.) I know you know this but they truly are a part of us and I can’t help but think the sadness we feel is sadness for our own selves, for how we are hurting our own larger self. We feel it as us because it is us. (I’m getting a bit esoteric here, sorry.)

          I appreciate your participation so much, Sol. Thank you!


          You said: “I think it’s sadder still that so many humans do not feel any responsibility for what we do to nature.” Yes, that is how I feel all the time, and that is what I wonder about all the time. Sadly, I don’t know how that will change, how do we help people feel the responsibility–that’s the only way we’ll reverse the direction we’re headed….which I think is destruction of all “natural nature.”


            Hi Karen!! So nice to see you here — thank you and welcome!

            You really got me going as I read this. That is the 6 million dollar question, isn’t it? How to change the destructive patterns?

            Believe it or not, I do think I have an answer, though, and it lies in a dirt simple practice that a man named John Sherman is sharing freely. It’s radical and revolutionary. And of course, I’ll write posts about it, even considered a post as a response to your thought-provoking comment. But I decided it’s more timely to comment here, and put one more post on my list 😉

            Also, I do think that what some people do (like you with your Animal-Kind International) greatly raises awareness and is a huge help, though. I know I was unaware for a long time about the destructive and inhumane way things work. Now that I know, I can make better choices.

            I’m so glad you came by!


    I do cry for butchered trees. I actually feel that they went through a trauma when they’ve been hacked away at with a saw. I can’t hear or read anything about animal abuse either……I feel my insides being twisted in horror.


      Hi Angela,

      I’m with you on all counts, including the animal abuse. “Twisted in horror” is a perfect description of how I feel, too.

      As I read your comment I felt sort of bad, like maybe this post (and the photos) is an assault on the senses of sensitives (like you). I’m so ambivalent about bringing this kind of thing to peoples’ attention and so far have not as far as animals are concerned. It’s at some level a mission of mine (I just know it) but I hesitate to put it in peoples’ faces. I expect I’ll find my balance with that as I go forward.

      Thanks so much for coming by, Angela. Always so nice to see you.


    I KNOW I am an empath and actually deal with that often, sometimes daily depending on how un-centered I’ve become. There are even certain TV shows I cannot watch (even if they are billed as comedies), because I really feel for some of the characters. I cannot shop for clothes in second hand stores because I find I carry with me the emotion of every pieces of clothing I have touched. (That’s one of the reasons I am not on the “vintage” bandwagon). I have a hard time in crowds because I am so sensitive to the emotion of the body of people. It pains me to see littered nature, butchered trees and hedges. The other morning I saw someone “garden” with a power weed whacker and it pained me to watch it. I could go on and on… But for now I’m off to visit the websites you had links for! Thank you for this post! Love, Silke


      Hi Silke!

      Interesting to know these things about you! I love 2nd-hand clothes but when I walk into a place that sells them I can definitely feel all that mixed energy you’re talking about.

      I think what you said right off is most significant: “I KNOW I am an empath and actually deal with that often, sometimes daily depending on how un-centered I’ve become.” (My italics)

      I notice that being grounded and centered in myself, what I also think of as strong in my own presence, keeps being an empath from being problematic. For me, that is my main way to live happily as an empath. I’m still sensitive to things but it doesn’t have unwanted effects.

      Thanks for commenting… 🙂


    Hi Patti,

    From young I realized I was more sensitive than most. Had Aries Sun and Cancer ascendant. Thank goodness for my Virgo moon to give me stability of sorts. Also realizing I was an INFJ pretty much confirmed the empathy bit. For a time I struggled to manage my emotions but luckily today I am pretty much in control of them.

    I can easily be moved by the suffering of trees if I allow myself to dwell on it. I definitely wince when I see animals suffering or in pain. Reading all the suffering that is going on in the world can be unsettling too. And I easily pick up the emotions of others when they share their pain. This is why it was so important for me to learn self-control and how to manage my emotions.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier


      Hi Irving,

      Thanks for that…. I had to look up INFJ. Interesting!

      You’re right… There’s a big difference between how we feel normally and if we “dwell on” these things, like you mention. That can easily turn into sentimentality if there’s no action (even at subtle levels) to back it up.

      I’d love to have a discussion sometime about what you call controlling your emotions. Of course we all do that to a degree, especially when we want to be functional (what a concept) but I am curious what kind of control you’re talking about. I think of my emotions more as messengers… and once I get their message, they recede on their own. Perhaps that’s included in how you work with yours… But anyway, I’ll quit guessing. I’m sure it’s more than can be discussed fully in a few comments!

      Thanks for coming by and leaving your thought-provoking comment, Irving!


        Hi Patti,

        What I meant by controlling my emotions was not letting them get the best of me. It was hard because I felt such a strong attachment to people and things. I remember all the silly things I did when I fell in love. Without proper control or detachment it could easily result in a lot of needless pain and misery. It was like a tap that I could not turn off at will.

        For me, I was better able to manage my emotions when I changed the way I perceived things. By learning to let go, see the bigger picture and accept that certain things are beyond my control, I am better able to manage my emotions today. I can finally turn off and on the tap almost at will.

        If there was a lesson in my experience, it was the necessity of learning to manage my emotions. Going through that hardship did give me a lot of insights about life. I hope that clears your questions about what I meant! 🙂


          Hi Irving,

          Ah, yes, silly in love… that explains it. 😉 And your idea of turning off and on the tap almost at will. I learned to do that at a young age by reading, but I did use it as an escape. But now, I see what you mean, I too can for the most part decide if/when to experience certain emotions. Sometimes I will go back and revisit them at a more convenient time if I know I haven’t gotten what I needed to from them or still have some processing to do. But now I understand. And you don’t let the tail wag the dog…

          Thanks for clarifying and sharing, Irving!


    Hello Patty,
    I have known that I was an empath since I was a child except that it was called being overly-sensitive which is true. I found the label empath from reading many different books on spirituality, metaphysics and personal development.

    Empath resonated with me and I began to realize that most of the feelings that I was carrying wasn’t mine but was absorbed from other people and the environment that I was in.

    I have learned some shielding techniques and aura cleansing to help me remove the unwanted energy.


      Hi Justin,

      Welcome! Thanks for coming by and especially for adding to the discussion. I’m like you, I didn’t know that label until I was an adult.

      As I read your comment I notice the term “overly”-sensitive. It implies something excessive — as judged by others, and also as experienced by us before we become aware of it. (And sometimes even after we’re aware of it.) But I just think it’s interesting because once we learn to work with it, it’s not only “just right” but it’s a pretty cool thing! So now it’s “ultra”, ya! “Overly”, not so much! (Oh, and I’m not criticizing your wording or anything… it just got me thinking is all. I’m just yakking.)

      Thanks for that little mind-zap. :-b And thanks for coming by!


    I definitely agree with all that is said here and I can relate. I hate seeing animals and even plants suffering, and find myself feeling for them when no one else seems to care.

    I always hated it when live trees would be cut down. I realize sometimes it has to be done but I feel sorry for them while it’s happening, it’s usually long, drawn out and really dramatic. It has to be terrible for them.

    I even feel bad for weeds, depending on how they’re dealt with. At my school they have a program where some of us learn to use a weedwhacker on big weeds that have grown in certain areas.

    I hate weedwhackers because to me it always sounds so mean and violent, like we’re purposely trying to make the plants scream.

    I hate when this one girl does it especially, because she tries to make it as miserable as she can on them. One time she was weedwhacking right outside our class and the weedwhacker was just screaming at the weeds. All you could hear was the string lashing them and their stems being whipped and broken apart. To me it sounded like the weeds were literally crying, and the more noise they made the harder she was on them. It got so loud we couldn’t even talk over it, so all we could do was listen.

    I looked outside and watched a weed waiting its turn. It was big and had flowers and big, pretty leaves. When she was done killing its friends, she came over and started weedwhacked it at its base until it collapsed under her foot. Even though it was down she kept weedwhacking it. Se had on these really flared pants and frowny running shoes and I felt so sad for it, it had no way of escaping it or protecting itself, all it could was lay there, probably still alive. The string was making it’s leaves and flowers explode one by one until they were all gone and nothing was left but the stem, which she weedwhacked until it too was disintegrated. There was literally nothing left of the plant, then she moved on to the rest. I felt so bad for them, and I imagined what it must be like to be them, to be sitting there not even doing anything wrong one minute and then being punished for living the next.

    I think sometimes we have a hand in nature and like anything else things need to be done like killing trees and weeds in our yard, but I don’t think people realize it is possible to be really cruel to a plant, or they do and it makes them feel powerful or something.They don’t sense things the way we do but they are aware in their own ways, and feel things in their own ways, just because we don’t understand how they do it doesn’t mean they don’t do it.


      Hi Amanda, and welcome!

      It does my heart good to know there are people like you with your sensitive sensibilites who appreciate and respect life in its many forms. It gives me hope.

      I can almost imagine your comment being a short story or children’s book, it was so descriptive and compelling.

      Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts here for others. I appreciate it!


    When my daughter was little, the concern was that she had no empathy. As she has matured (it didn’t take long) she developed such a compassionate and empathetic heart toward people but especially for nature, animals, even air/water. They are doing vast development in our area meaning that many trees are being removed or destroyed. It breaks her heart every time she notes it. Yes we need the change, but we need nature equally as much. (If not more). We tend to forget to make nature part of our future when we plan our advancement. My dad and I share her empathyetic heart in so many ways – my dad has a way with animals that is beyond me… and I think my daughter shares that with him. it is, in my mind, a deep understanding of the connectedness of everything – and growing up with that acceptance and the ability to celebrate that connectedness over denying it – and sometimes it is amazingly heart wrenching. I feel, sometimes, we live in a society that has forgotten how to work together – with one another and with nature – so we destroy things.


      Hi, and you are so welcome here! Thanks for coming by.

      I found your whole comment very touching. I agree, we have lost sight of our connectedness with all things, especially living things, including plants. So many of mankind’s laws about animals and nature are created for his own short-term benefit, and ironically — as you point out — are so destructive that we are on a path of destroying even ourselves.

      I’m so glad there are people like you and your daughter and your dad who are in-tune enough to value the things you mentioned. It gives me great hope. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your comment!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.